Sunday, May 1, 2011

Remesas bi-direccionales/Bidirectional remittances

Time to prepare for another trip to the U.S. which means, as usual, collecting a few things that people here want to send to migrants living in the U.S. Today's project is a quick trip to Zacualpa, the next town to the east of us. Zacualpa was one of the communities hardest hit during the armed conflict, and the church building still bears the scars. It is also a municipio that has been shaped in recent years by substantial migration to the U.S. - and it is one of the major communities of origin for the Maya in New Bedford. 

Sometimes the requests come from "allá" -- that is, I will get a call telling me that so-and-so's sister or family needs to send something, and sometimes the requests come from this end. Sometimes what people want to send from here are material objects -- handwoven textiles, beans from the family's plot -- and, other times, legal documents. More and more of the migrants I know are involved in various legal proceedings to "regularize" their status, and also to seek visas for their families.  So, a few days ago I got a call from Doña F, in Zacualpa, telling me that she needed to send the birth certificates for the children of her sister in New Bedford. And I have been holding onto a plastic bag containing items that one of the women in Oxib' B'atz', the women's association in New Bedford, had wanted to send to her family. This bag was given to me when I was in Seattle last month -- my colleague/friend/collaborator Adrian, who joined me in Seattle to talk about the relationship between anthropologists and Maya communities, took advantage of our encounter to hand me a bag for Olivia's family.  Unfortunately I have only gone to Zacualpa once since then, and it was a last-minute invitation to a meeting with comadronas (midwives) and I forgot the package. 

Today I had intended to go with my students who were here for a visit to my field site (such as it is), but after yesterday's excursions (Cunén and Sacapulas), they decided they needed to return to Guatemala City a bit earlier than we'd planned (one had to work, and they were all worried about the traffic because Guatemala's Catholic establishment is making a huge deal over the beatification of John Paul II, and therefore the city traffic is supposed to be especially congested and miserable). That was fine with me, but I had already arranged to meet up with the women in Zacualpa to deliver one package and receive the documents that are going in the other direction. So, I'm off.... 

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